Bob and Eileen Vaillancourt were inducted to the Navan Community Builders Wall on September 9, 2023. With their long history of leadership and involvement in community organizations, they have contributed to village life for many decades. Their valued contributions have enhanced every organization they have led and participated in. They have ensured that the history of our ancestors and our military members is preserved and honoured. Their talents, example, neighbourliness, and enthusiasm for Navan have enriched the social fabric of our community. They exemplify the community spirit that makes Navan the wonderful place it is to call home.
Bob Vaillancourt was born in Montreal in 1932 and came to Navan in the early 1950s. He worked for the Cotton brothers on their Navan dairy farm and this is when he met Eileen. Eileen McFadden was born in Navan in 1935 and has lived here ever since. Bob and Eileen were married in 1957 and were blessed with four children: Gary, Darrell, Susan and Christine.
Both Bob and Eileen have contributed generously of their time, skills and energy to help make Navan, and the greater community beyond, a better place for all. Bob was, and Eileen remains, a very active member of St. Mary’s Anglican Church, supporting the church as much as possible. Bob was a warden for a five-year term and served as treasurer of both the church and St. Mary’s Cemetery. Both were long-time members of the cemetery board with Eileen retiring her post a couple of years ago. However, she still attends the meetings and offers her expertise whenever possible.
Eileen taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, and served as president and secretary of the Anglican Church Women’s organization. Over the past 65 years Eileen has been seen carrying all sorts of baked goods to St. Mary’s Hall for various fundraisers, and Bob would be found in the kitchen washing the dishes used in these many money-making ventures. Together they made a great team and were instrumental in the functioning of the church. A portion of the money raised from these numerous charity events went to important causes such as Centre 454 and The Well in Ottawa, funding Christmas shoeboxes filled with toys and toiletries for children in impoverished countries, and most recently the sponsorship of a refugee family from Iraq now living in the area.
Bob and Eileen also volunteered outside of the church community. They were quick to donate food, money and time to other worthy organizations such as the Navan Lions Club, the Navan Women’s Institute, the Navan Fair, and the International Plowing Match held in Navan in 2001. Eileen has welcomed many new residents to the village with a tasty treat and a friendly smile, and also brings hot meals and baked goods to bereaved families or lonely shut-ins, whenever the need arises.
Not only did this dynamic duo strive to build a better community together, but throughout their lives they have also contributed as individuals. In Bob’s younger days he was in the Governor General’s Foot Guards. He participated in the Trooping of Colours on Parliament Hill to celebrate the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Bob was a lover of all sports but his passion was hockey. He was a member of the Navan Flyers hockey team and was a coach in the Cumberland Township Minor Hockey Association. He could be found many nights at the Navan Arena and surrounding arenas, refereeing hockey games alongside his son Gary. Bob helped raise money for artificial ice to be installed in the Navan Arena in 1972 by participating in a long-distance walk-a-thon, which he did by mostly running. Despite working full-time in Ottawa, Bob was a volunteer firefighter, as was his son Gary, with the Cumberland Township Volunteer Firefighters.
In 1988 Bob received a Certificate of Merit from the Government of Canada in grateful recognition of his contribution to his community. In his later years he accompanied his granddaughter’s class at Heritage Public School to the Navan Arena to tie skates and assist on the ice for those who could not skate well. Sadly, on July 29, 2011 Bob passed away leaving Eileen to continue on alone with her philanthropic ways.
When Eileen left her job at Canadian Tire to take care of her mother whose health was failing, she also became a full-time caregiver to young children of families in and around Navan. She lives by the adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.” She often sent baked goods home with the families to help ease the burden of their daily grind. To this day she remains very close to “her kids” and many of them still live in the area and, following her example, have themselves become contributors to their communities. She also volunteered at Heritage Public School reading one-on-one with young students to promote early reading.
Eileen is a dedicated member of the Navan Nifty 50 Plus Seniors Club, enthusiastically attending its weekly gatherings since it began in 2012. She is also a devoted member of the Cumberland Township Historical Society. From her deep desire to maintain family and community history, she authored a book about St. Mary’s Cemetery identifying everyone buried there. Next, in collaboration with Laurie Watson and with the assistance of the Navan Community Association, she published a book of biographies of the 23 men named on the Navan Cenotaph. The profits from the sale of these books went to Support our Troops, an Ottawa-based organization which aims to “meet the unique needs and special challenges faced by members of the Canadian Armed Forces community as a result of military service.” This organization holds poignant meaning for Eileen because her eldest son, Captain Gary Vaillancourt, died in 2000 from an illness that was attributed to his military service. Gary had enlisted in the Canadian Forces in 1986 and had served on bases across the country, and fulfilling a six-month United Nations peacekeeping tour of duty in Cambodia in 1993. Bob and Eileen’s second son, Darrell, a now-retired Warrant Officer, did three UN peacekeeping tours of duty—deployed twice to the Middle East and once to Croatia—during his 23-year career in the Canadian military.
In 1987 Eileen accompanied her Silver Cross mother, Annie McFadden, at the unveiling of the first Navan Cenotaph upon which her brother’s name was inscribed; Cecil McFadden had been killed in World War II. Bob and Eileen became members of the Navan Cenotaph Restoration Committee to oversee the rebuilding and relocation of the Cenotaph to the Veterans Memorial Park in 2010. This was a cause very dear to their hearts as their son Gary’s name was sadly now inscribed on the Cenotaph as well.
Bob and Eileen Vaillancourt exemplify the solid community values that make Navan the welcoming place it is today. They have steadfastly supported and maintained relationships and organizations that form the fabric of our village. Their faithful, dependable, loyal, and kind service to our community is most worthy of their names being given the honour of inclusion on the Navan Builders’ Wall.
Anne-Marie Potvin has been an active contributing member of the community for the past 33 years when the family moved to Navan from Moonbeam in Northern Ontario. She has been a member of the Navan Womens Institute for many years, serving in various functions at the local and District level. Under her guidance, many community events were held for the WI such as hosting garden tours, and buying flags on three different occasions to beautify the village. Anne-Marie was one of the first members of the Navan Community Association and held the position of president for a few years. Presently she is the director of horticulture for the association and as such has secured funds via a grant from FOMB to purchase the raised gardens seen at various spots in the village. She has filled them with flowers and makes sure they are well maintained throughout the summer. Anne-Marie is also a contributing member of the CTAS helping out in the floriculture division. She was part of the committee that saw the Clocktower Plaza come to life for the 150th anniversary of Navan. She ensures that plaques are made to add to the Builders Wall on an annual basis and that the ceremony is held every year. She is a well-deserving addition to the Community Builders Wall.
Rachel and David Grattan have made Navan their home for forty years. Although they were involved with guides, scouts and church events from the beginning, it is mostly their volunteer work through the Navan Lions Club that resonates the most. David has been heavily involved with many aspects that promotes the community such as planning and building floats for the Navan Parade, making costumes to wear at all public fun events, building furniture as a fundraiser for many auctions and fundraisers. He has diligently written articles about local birds for the Navan Nugget. Rachel is a willing volunteer for any community organization whether it be Lions, or church or wherever she can be of help, sometimes in a very quiet and private way. For the longest time, they have both been cleaning the neighborhood of garbage on their daily walks. They continue to help make Navan a great place to live.
Chris and Hal MacPherson have been volunteering together and on their own in the community since they chose Navan as their home base after Hal’s active military career. They have both held prominent positions within the Navan Community Association and the Lions Club. Some of their accomplishments include introducing a street walking/snowshoeing club, organizing a fitness class in conjunction with the Nifty Fifty Club, volunteering in the community Fallfest, the Navan Fair Parade, the 150th Committee Celebrations, Carine Wilson Relay for Life as well as helping with the Lions Fundraising efforts in any way they can. Christina has helped establish a vision screening program for school children within the Ottawa area. Hal has served on the District leadership team of the Lions organization and as such was appointed to oversee several summer camps that helped numerous children disabled in one form or another. They are instrumental in making Navan a caring community.
Sue Woram has been a contributing member and leader in the Navan community since she moved to navan in 1983. She has worked hard at fostering community spirit in the neighbourhood and in the community at large. She was one of the people spearheading the first Navan block Parent organization. She was the driving force behind the formation of the 1st Navan Brownie Pack becoming their first Brown Owl. This group grew to include not only Brownies but Guides, Sparks and Pathfinders. Sue went on to represent the area guiding movement as commissioner. All this as a volunteer. Woman of vision! Sue has also been active in the Navan Women’s Institute, another great group of volunteers. She became president in 2017. Through her dedication, she has organized many interesting programs either for the community at large (ROSE) or for the group. Sue was the instigator in contacting WI groups in the UK and making everyone aware of common objectives and sharing goals. She has also brought her determination and hard work to many community events including Fall Fest, Winter Fest and the annual Remembrance Day services. She actively participates and contributes to the Nifty Fifty Senior group, Book club and visits with meals to the ill, ailing or lonely. In each of her pursuits, Sue is a promoter, encouraging others to become involve. She is a great listener and contributor. Sue Woram has certainly done her share and deserves her place on the Builders Wall.
The McFadden has a long history in Navan and has been involved in community services from the beginning. George McFadden, a native of Ireland came to Canada with his widowed mother in the 1840’s. In the submission for the Builders Wall, the nominator gave a fascinating, detailed account of the local family history and how the descendants spread throughout the area and married into local families. There is a McFadden road that recognizes the contributions of the McFadden clan. The family with its extended roots has contributed farmers, teachers, nurses, firefighters and soldiers to the area. They have supported the major aspects of Navan in every way. Two members of the family made the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives at war. The McFadden clan continues to be a great asset to the community in many ways.
Lloyd was a pioneer farmer in the Navan area. With notes from his daughter Ona who submitted the application, it is known that he was involved in many aspects of the community. He was on the board of farmers looking after the cheese factory that existed at that time. He was one of the first members of the Lions club when it was formed and its president for one term. He had the distinction of being the last living member of the original Bradley Cup team. Lloyd was also a school board trustee for 35 years. The family belonged to St-Mary’s parish in Navan and was very involved in all activities and fundraising. Letters of support confirm that Lloyd was a great community man.
Gordon was an outstanding community builder that was involved in many aspects of the village life. For some, his vision of starting a women’s fastball team stands as his most outstanding volunteer effort. He brought his team to city-wide championship. He was the coach, the driver, worked the canteen, prepared the field and organized tournaments for all ages. He was a pivotal force in acquiring the lightning system for the field. Gord became a Lions member in 1963 and served in just about every role for the next 55 years. For years, Gord was in charge of the bingo at the Navan Fair, not a small feat in itself. Gordon took on the huge responsibility of single handedly rewriting the regional 835 exchange phonebook in larger print so that older people could better read the numbers. Gord was a fixture in the Navan Community Arena and always found a way to lend a hand in all events especially through all the rebuilding of the arena. He was awarded the Humanitarian award by the Red Cross for having given over 100 blood donations. Gord enriched everyone’s life by being an incredible model as a volunteer worker.
Sam has made a significant contribution to community organizations and is part of the volunteers that deserve recognition on the Builders Wall. Working with the Cumberland Fire Department, he trained drivers, introduced the teddy bear program for children who have been exposed to a traumatic experience, and maintained historical records of the Navan Fire Department amongst other things. In 1991, Sam became part of the CTAS and was responsible for organizing heavy horse shows. He was instrumental in bringing the prestigious North American Six horse Hitch Classic Series to the Navan Fair. This annual show continues to draw international competitors to our Fair. He was president and an integral part of the planning of the 50th anniversary of the Fair. At that time, Navan became part of Guinness Book of World Record with the 50 -HorseHitch. Sam’s vision and hard work continued as Chair of the International Plowing Match in which an incredible number of volunteers staged a 5 day rural Expo through the worse conditions imaginable. As a member of the Royal Canadian he has received the Legion’s Poppy Award. In 2011, Sam was Project manager for the Navan Cenotaph Restoration project which is a wonderful addition to the village. For all this and more, Sam is well deserving to have his name added to the Builders Wall.
Tom is an important and valuable asset to the community in many ways. He has diligently photographed and recorded every event the community puts on for the longest while. He has served the community as a member of the Navan Vars Scouting Group Committee. Coached Navan kids in the Cumberland United Soccer League for 5 years. He organized and monitored Teen Dances for the NCA for 15 years thus also allowing many secondary students to complete their voluntary hours. He has overseen the printing of the Nugget since its inception, and since October 2016, has taken on the editorship and full production of the Navan Nugget, an invaluable commodity that is much appreciated in the community. He was a member of the Navan Lions Club for several years and served as president during the year of the Great Ice Storm of 1998. He patiently records the ornithology of this region and publishes his finds in the Nugget thus enriching the readers with his findings. Tom is an invaluable volunteer and deserves to be recognized on the Builders Wall.
Don is an ever-present volunteer that has a significant impact in the community and is worthy of being on the Community Builders Wall. He is the “go to” guy for all the clubs and organizations in Navan. Without him, many functions would not have a voice. He sets up the PA system for all events, including the Navan Fair as well as the churches in the village. He was heavily involved with the Navan Bowling League, including organising teams, banquets, coordinating prizes and awards and making trophies for events that required them. As a veteran to the Air Force, Don coordinates the poppy drive to various locations around the area. He has been a tireless volunteer at the Navan Fair in any capacity that is required of him since moving to Navan in 1965. Don is truly an active role model for all members of his family who now contribute in various ways in the community. Over the course of his volunteering in Navan, he has been honoured with the Citizen of the Year from the city of Ottawa. Don is truly a great Community Builder.
About ten years ago, Juanita suggested that it might be fun to put up a fall festival for families. The idea was embraced by many and with the help of community groups such as the Lions and the WI, it has become an annual fun day with free activities, contests, crafts, a barbecue and much more enjoyed by hundreds. On another note, having been in contact with seniors in the area, Juanita realized there was a need for them to get together and socialise. She invested many hours going through the procedures to secure the Navan arena as a weekly meeting place and the Nifty 50 Plus club was born. It has all kinds of activities in which more than 70 seniors are now involved. This club is also now a venue for the local school band to give concerts and classes to perform. For all her work for the seniors, Juanita was awarded the city of Ottawa Seniors Award. Juanita is also a founding member of the Navan Streetwalkers, a group that encourages women to walk to keep fit and healthy.
Both individually and together Juanita and Ray have made great contributions to Navan with their visions of a better community. Having lived in many cities and provinces, they chose Navan as their permanent home in 2004 and from that time on have been invaluable contributors to the betterment of the community. Two activities are foremost in their accomplishments: the Nifty 50 plus Club and the Fall Fest.
Ray has been active in many ways besides being the right-arm of the Nifty-50 Plus Club. He is involved with the Friends of Mer Bleue organization that has orchestrated a safe shutdown of the landsite in the near future and is part of a committee that distributes funds from that organization to local groups. Navan has profited from his knowledge and expertise that have helped secure monies towards many local causes. Ray is an very active director of the NCA and has been a great influence in promoting its membership. He is a tireless volunteer with the Navan’s Lions Club and was co-chair of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebration in Navan. All of the above meet the requirements to be recognized as great Community Builders.
Fred and his late wife Catherine built their home in Navan in the 1980’s and Fred has been involved with innumerable volunteer organizations since then. Fred can be relied upon to be the first person to help, be it at most local charity events, services or groups in general. He is most well known for his time spent with the Scout mouvement. He was scoutmaster of the 1st Vars/Navan Scout troop for many, many years and in that capacity encouraged and facilitated the development of local youth who in turn, contributed to the betterment of the community. Fred is extremely creative and wise in the use of resources and has taught that skill to others. He is an active member of the Lions Club and as such, has received the Melvin Jones Award which is the highest form of recognition for extraordinary humanitarian aid within the organization. Fred helps build wonderful floats for the Navan parade in which the Lions participate. Fred is also a great help to the local Navan Women’s Institute. He sets up tables, chairs and even tents when needed. He made signs, a stand for the banner and makes sure the meeting room is ready for use. For his help, he has received the Erland Lee Award of Appreciation from the Provincial level of WI. Fred is an invaluable volunteer for the Navan Fallfest which is a family oriented day of fun activities at which a BBQ is also held. Again, Fred spends hours making sure everything is set up as it should be. As an active member of the Navan Community Association, some of his other contributions have been to co-chair the 150th anniversary of Canada, help with designing and installing a Time Capsule and help in any way he can. Over the years, Fred has been and continues to be a positive and influential role model to many in the community.
The Cotton Family. The history of the Cotton family is full of interesting contributions to Navan since the early 1860’s. James Cotton Sr. and Mary Derris are the founding couple of a long line of Cotton’s who have called Navan their home and helped build the community into a strong rural village. Jim was one of their children and throughout the years bought land, built houses and successfully formed Sunnymead Farms with 300 acres of land, purebred Ayrshire cows and several teams of work horses. The parents, Jim and Eleonor instilled strong family values to their 10 children along with the importance of hard work and dedication to the community. The Cotton family has been involved with the Navan Fair since the beginning. They have contributed to the success of the 4H club, the Ayrshire club, the Volunteer Fire Department, the local church and Sunday school, the building of two arenas along with local ploughing matches. It is known throughout the area that if something needs to be done, ask the Cottons and it will be accomplished. The Cotton Family name on the Builders Wall is a fitting tribute to a family who has called Navan their home for six generations.
Navan Volunteer Firefighters: Even though Navan was established as a community in the late 1800’s, it was not until much later that a brigade was formed. In 1943, a fire destroyed the Elsie Clark Store and the post office and in 1948, the JT Bradley and Son was destroyed by fire. After these events, the locals formed the first brigade that became official only in 1960. Some of these first volunteers and visionaries are still living and deserve to have their dedication recognized as a group on the Wall. In order not to forget names along the way, all volunteer firefighters are deemed to have contributed to the community. It is difficult to imagine, but from 1949 to 1965, the water was loaded by hand to a milk truck, transported to the fire scene and dumped by hand into the water tank on the truck that would then pump unto the fire. Throughout the years, with ingenuity, the volunteer firefighters improved the conditions under which they worked and in 1984, a true fire station was built on Colonial Rd. now known as Station #71. As volunteers, firefighters are involved in many activities that go on in Navan. They are part of the Navan Fair Parade in which they raise money to donate to Muscular Dystrophy. They are there for school events and other charitable events. They volunteer to give tours of the station to classes, they have raised money for special equipment such as Jaws of Life and a snowmobile equipped for the bush to name a few. Navan is well served by these volunteers who spend countless hours to make this community a safe and caring place.
The Wall family has been an important part of Navan since 1856. Six generations have contributed in many ways to build, develop, nurture and enrich Navan. William, Ellen Jane, Catherine, Lydia and Thomas Wall settled in the area around Navan. These five siblings came from South March and were involved in the building of St. Mary’s Anglican Church, the early development of the village of Navan and the establishments of farms. The second generation farmed on what is now called Wall Road. Edgar married Mildred Coburn and they farmed of the south side of Wall Road. Mildred was a very active member of the Anglican Church and a pioneer of the Navan Women’s Institute. She had many talents and was always volunteering her time and talents. Edgar was an elected councillor and deputy reeve of Cumberland Township. The following generations have continued to serve their community as volunteers in many committees and groups. To name a few, the Wall family was involved in the building of St Mary’s church,. They were leaders and participants in the 4-H young farmers movement, directors and committee members of the Navan Fair, involved numerous community events and always ready to support friends and neighbours in any way they can. The Wall family exemplifies community spirit at its best over 160 years of participation in Navan.
Bob and Helen have volunteered in the community for many years. Both of them realized early the importance and significance of the Navan Fair in this rural community and for innumerable years, they served in various capacities on the different committees. Bob was president for the 1984 and 1985 fairs. They were both dedicated to their church where Bob remains the caretaker, setting the furnace for special events and Sunday school and operating the elevator. The Navan Women’s Institute was an organization that was very dear to Helen. She valued the social and educational content of this group. Helen volunteered her time, effort and expertise at the local, district and provincial level to help make this organization meaningful to others. But it is their kindness and generosity that people remember the most. Although Helen passed away in 2012, many relatively new to Navan people have very fond memories of how Helen and Bob went out of their way to make them feel at home in this area and helped them get involved in the community. This is community building!
Since 1945, the CTAS as it is known, is a most important fixture in the community and surrounding area. Visionaries of that time saw the need for an agricultural fair that would display local goods and farm animals as well as act as a social meeting place. Navan was chosen as the place and the first Fair was held on August 31st 1946. Since that time it has expanded to become a four day affair with entertainment and all kinds of activities to suit young and old. It now attracts over 26000 visitors and enlists over 300 volunteers on the grounds during the fair. The CTAS made a valuable contribution to the community by facilitating the building of the Navan Community Centre, Centennial Park and the Cenotaph. They donated land for the building of the Curling Club. In 1995, for the 50th Fair, the 50 horse hitch put Navan in the Guinness Book of Record. Hundreds of events have been held over the years on the grounds to generate funds for community groups. This organization with its annual fair is a tourist attraction, an economical help and an educational venue for Navan and so rightly deserves to be recognized as such.
David Irwin was born in England in 1881. He received his primary and secondary education there. His family immigrated to Canada in the late 1890’s and lived in Ottawa. Dr. Irwin completed his medical studies at Queen’s University. He first established his practice in Cumberland then moved to Navan to become the country doctor that served the population of the entire township of Cumberland and beyond. He diligently served this area for over 30 years. At that time, going to Ottawa was a long distance to travel for medical emergencies for most of the residents. Dr. Irwin‘s house and office were located on Smith Rd. but more often than not in the 20’s, 30’ and 40’s, he would have made house calls when farmers could not leave their farm. His pay would be eggs, vegetables or meat when the clients had no cash. He also served for several years on the Village Council and was heavily involved with men’s and women’s senior softball and hockey teams. Dr. Irwin met an untimely death when his car was hit by a train in 1944.In appreciation of his services to the community and his compassion for his patients, he deserves to be recognized as a community builder.
This is a group of service-minded men and women who have generously given of their time and talents to make the Navan Community a better place since 1952. Their motto is WE SERVE and they certainly live by it. Here are but a few highlights of their accomplishments: over $50000 to help build the curling club, money to CTAS to purchase the fair grounds, generous donations to Hospice at May Court, Outcare Foundation and the community Resource Centre to name a few. They have established the Hannah Billings Emergency Fund that helps needy families with expenses arising from medical emergencies. They provide and cook food at all community events and beyond. They work in close collaboration with other organizations to make Navan a better place to live. Relay for Life, a school event has benefited from their help for the last 10 years. They continue to support events in Navan such as Fallfest, Winterfest, the November Remembrance ceremony and more. The list of community activities could go on for pages. The letters of support that attest to this were numerous. It is only fitting that this dedicated club be part of the Community Builders Wall.
The Navan Women’s Institute held its first meeting in December 1931 and has been actively helping out in the community ever since. They have given courses on Nutrition, First Aid, and talks on Home Economics, home beautification, and canning to name a few. They helped financially with the building of the first, second and third arenas. They have made donations for playground equipment to the park, to CTAS for their new building and so many others. In cooperation with other groups, they had Navan signs put up at the entrance of the village, helped build a handicap ramp at the post office, given money to the Fire Department for Jaws of Life equipment and so much more. One of their major on-going project is the recording of all local news and events in a series of books. These are called the Tweedmuir books and are an incredible source of information of everything local. The NWI continues to make donations and sponsor events that improve and educate the community. They give bursaries to girls to help with post –secondary education and help individual reach their goals when they can. Members of this group are truly community builders.
Sam Rathwell was the first of the generations to arrive from Wexford Ireland in 1846 to the Navan area. Although life was difficult at that time, he became involved in the new community and the descendants continue to follow in his footsteps. One cannot begin to list all of their accomplishments but they are farmers, reeves, deputy reeves, president of Navan Fair and many different organizations. Here is but a sample of their contributions to the community throughout the years. The building of a cement block building used as a cheese factory now known as Castello’s restaurant, helping with the re-forestation of Larose Forest, strong supporters of the Navan Fair Board and other district and provincial agricultural associations. Grandson of the original settlers, Sam was the first president of the CTAS and his wife was very involved with the NWI. Others too numerous to name, built the first veterinary clinic in Navan, were founding members of the Curling Club, were and are strong supporters of their church. The collective efforts of six generations who have lived, worked and devoted their talents to enrich the community deserves to be recognised.
They have been active volunteers and participants in community events and activities in Navan for many years. As a policeman, George spent countless volunteer hours educating and working with the youth in the community. Pat was a key organizer for the Nursery School and also participated in numerous fundraisers where her baking became renowned. Both Pat and George realized the importance of the Fair to the community and were active in many facets of its operation. George was president for two years and ran the Demolition Derby for a long time. He was the voice and MC for the parade and was the spokesperson for the Fair in case of emergency. Pat held many positions within the CTAS and was instrumental in organizing free activities for children. Pat and George were part of a group that formed the original Block Parent in Navan. Both of them were dedicated members of their church where they helped in so many ways. Navan has lost great volunteers with their move to another city and we are pleased to honour them as builders of the community.
George and his family were raised on the family homestead on Colonial Rd. George and his wife later bought a farm on the corner of Trim and Smith Rd, still referred to as the Shaw building. The Shaw’s generosity is responsible for many facets of Navan. In 1898, stones from the quarry on the farm were used to build the present St-Mary’s church. The Wilson Memorial Cemetery is located on part of the Shaw land. As well as a dairy farm, George owned a bush which is now the site of the most public places in Navan. It is home to the Fair building and all other buildings in the surrounding area. It is the park and the baseball field as well as where the Domes are located. George was extremely generous. He donated lumber for the construction of St-Mary’s hall as well as for the first community centre. George’s choices concerning the use of his land and his resources showed civic-minded foresight as we now enjoy all these public places. He was a real community builder.
Sheila has been an active volunteer and visionary since she moved to this area in 1976. She is a founding member of the Navan Curling Club and has helped the club with much needed fundraising on numerous occasions. She has made monthly contributions to the Navan Nugget for over 9 years writing about interesting people under the Navan Notables title. In 2011, Sheila spearheaded Navan’s 150th anniversary by envisioning a town clock plaza in the center of the village to mark this historic event. Her dream was realised with most monies raised through donations and with help from Brian Coburn, a community builder’s wall was added. After the 50-horse hitch record, Sheila’s idea brought about the two horse statue at the Fair Grounds. She also contributed greatly to the beautification on Navan in advance of the IPM in 2001. Other contributions include but not limited to organizing a computer course for seniors, creating a knitting club, volunteer story hour, helping students work their 40 hours of volunteer and so many others. She is President of the Navan Women’s Institute and has held many other positions at the district and provincial level. The list goes on. What a great community builder!
Michael O Meara was a central figure in the establishment of the community. He was born in the parish of Navan, county Meath, Ireland in 1799. He immigrated to Canada in 1835 and established himself and his family in this area, just east of the now Frank Kenny Road. He had the honour of naming the first post office and chose Navan, as a memory of his life in Ireland. In later years, Fairgreen Ave. and Trim Road were also named after streets in Michael O Meara’s home parish. He was a member of the Cumberland Township Council in 1851-1852, taught children and was an active member of his parish, Michael O Meara died in 1898 and is buried in St-Hughe’s cemetery in Sarsfield. Most of his descendants continue to live in this area and contribute to the well-being of this community. In recent years, the Navan2Navan project has created a modern-day link to the Navan Ireland community and many Navanites from both side of the Atlantic share wonderful visits back and forth and truly enjoy learning more of their history. Michael O Meara was the community builder.
Born and raised in the village of Navan, he learned the farming methods and rituals from his father. He eventually owned three farms and valued everything that was agricultural. Wesley also had a very strong community spirit and was involved in numerous volunteer organizations that contributed greatly to the community. He was a lifetime member of the Holstein-Freisan Association, was part of the Navan Fire Brigade before Navan had its own truck, was a promoter of the Farm Forum during the Second World War and helped promote the Boy Scout movement as well as Junior Farmers. Wesley was a long-time member of the Navan Lions Club, member of the Arena committee that built two arenas, president of the CTAS in 1949-50, Chairman of the Navan Continuation School Board. During the war, he organized and set up Blood Donor Clinics as an ongoing event in the basement of the Navan United Church. His many contributions make him a community builder.
There have been seven generations of Smiths that have lived in Navan for over 150 years. During all these years, many have helped build and shape this community as well as helped to protect this country. Born in Ireland in 1819, Thomas Smith immigrated to Canada and bought land in the Navan area from the Crown and this land became the Smith homestead. It was deeded down through the generations and is now one of the few Century Farm in the district. Through the generations, the family has been involved with St-Mary’s Church, the Navan Women’s Institute, Holstein farming, the Navan Lions Club, volunteering at the schools and many other organizations and activities that have made this a great community. The presence of Smith men in the wars speaks of their dedication to their country. At one point, six of Thomas’ Smith sons were in the service during WW2. William was killed in action. The family has many medals of distinctions that were earned for their service to Canada. One particular Smith is Eric born in 1921 and still a familiar face that helps out in his community. A family worthy of being on the Builder’s Wall.
- Appointed to the Parks and Recreation Township of the Township of Cumberland in the late 1970s
- Instrumental in the organization of the annual fastball tournaments at Navan’s new Centennial Park
- President of the Navan Lion’s Club 1976-1977, 1985-1986, 1993-1994
- Led the Fundraising Committee towards the completion of Navan’s third Arena, which raised over $500,000, and opened in the spring of 1984
- President of the Navan Curling Club 1990-1991, the year the club got its new building
- President 2005-2006 during the curling club expansion
- Navan Town Crier in 2011, in support of Navan’s 150th Anniversary
James McWilliams (1821 County Antrim, Ireland – 1895 Navan, Russell County, Ontario, Canada) and Mary Wright (1820 Ireland – 1912 Navan, ON), are noted as amongst the first families who called Navan their home and helped to establish the strong sense of community pride and community commitment for which Navan is known for today.
- 1995: organization of the Fifty-Horse Hitch, putting Navan in the Guinness Book of World Records
- Rural Expo 2001: International Plowing Match and Farm Machinery Show
- 2002: Founders and organizers of the Hay West Campaign
- 2002: First of several Navan residents to receive the Keys to the City of Ottawa, followed by additional recognitions such as the Meritorious Service Award from the Governor General of Canada received in 2003, Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Navan Lions Club Citizen of the Year, and awards presented by the Alberta Farm Classic
- 2005: Navan, Conceived and led the Food Day initiative, in support of the Ottawa Food Bank, an event which continues to be an annual fundraising occurrence
- 2006: CTV Canada AM “Wake up a Winner Community Challenge
- 2011: CBC Kraft Hockeyville
- Cumberland Township Agricultural Society and Navan Fair, Junior Farmers and 4H organizations, Ottawa Winter Fair, Draft Horse associations (Eastern Regional Clydesdale Association and Canadian Belgian Horse Association), Cumberland (Township) Heritage Museum
- With the latest generation generous sharing their talents in nursing, award winning local and international music (fiddle) dance (step and highland) competitions, and sport.